The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), headed by MP Raju Shetti, today announced snapping of ties with the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra, while accusing the NDA of failing to honour its promises made to the farmers.
The decision to pull out of the NDA and the ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance) in the state was taken during a state-level executive meeting of the party in Pune.
However, since the SSS has only one MP and no MLA in the state, the decision will not destabilise any of the governments.
“We had supported the NDA and Mahayuti before the 2014 elections, as it promised the minimum support price for crops. However, in all these years, they have failed to honour their promises,” Shetti said.
“At the insistence of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, we had become a constituent in the NDA and later, a part of the Mahayuti, but with certain riders and conditions.
“However, over the last three-and-a-half years, we have been disillusioned as all the promises made to the farmers by the Centre and the state government in the election manifesto have failed to see the light of the day,” he added.
Shetti said the SSS had committed a “grave mistake” by extending support to the NDA.
“Since we had committed a grave mistake of lending support to these governments, I conducted an ‘atmaklesh’ (inflicting pain on oneself) yatra and now, we have decided to snap the ties with both the NDA and Mahayuti,” he said.
“However, we have decided to part ways as we do not want to compromise on our principles and on the farmers’ cause,” he added.
Shetti said the reason behind joining the NDA was simple as the SSS, which agitated for the farmers on the streets, wanted to be part of the decision-making body (government), so that ‘acche din’ (good days) could be brought for the farmers.
“We waited for three-and-a-half years. We were patient. But, when we realised that the objective with which we had joined politics was not being fulfilled, we could not sit idle,” he added.
Shetti argued that since the government had failed to give MSP equal to 1.5 times the input costs and a total farm loan waiver), the SSS had decided to pull out of the NDA and Mahayuti.
“Narendra Modi, who was the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, had promised in his campaign speech at Miraj in Sangli (in Maharashtra) to give the minimum support price as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission. However, the farmers have been disillusioned and betrayed,” he said.
He added that several discussions took place on the issue in Parliament, but they were inconclusive.
“When some of our associates went to the Supreme Court and filed a writ petition, questioning why the promises made in the election manifesto were not honoured, the government filed an affidavit stating that MSP equal to 1.5 times the input costs could not be given,” Shetti said, adding that it showed that the ruling dispensation had betrayed the farmers.
He added that the SSS drew the society’s flak for not pulling out of the government, but it was patient enough and gave time to the governments to act on their promises.
“In the last three-and-a-half years, due to the policies of the government, the farm loan burden as well as farmer suicides increased, the agricultural growth became negative and the import of agriculture produce from other countries went up,” he said, adding that the farmers were still waiting for the subsidy on drip irrigation and the power connection promised to them was also yet to come.
Shetti alleged that the government even tried to “sabotage” the farmers’ agitation in Maharashtra, demanding a total farm loan waiver.
He said to press for the two demands – MSP and farm loan waiver – the SSS would hold a farmers’ agitation at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in November, where over 150 organisations from across the country would take part.
He added that an SSS delegation would meet Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis soon and communicate the decision to him officially.
Earlier this month, the SSS had expelled Maharashtra Minister of State for Agriculture Sadabhau Khot, who was a party MLC, for “anti-party activities”.
For the last several months, the outfit had been hinting at snapping the ties with the government over the farmers’ issues.
“We have now decided that we will keep a safe distance from all the political parties, will intensify the farmers’ agitation and will fight only for the farmers,” said Shetti.